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What do Red Cross, Harvard and Tasti D-Lite have in common?

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What do Red Cross, Harvard, and Tasti D-Lite have in common? They have all learned how to use existing social media and digital platforms to work overtime for their causes and brands. Let’s take a little walk through three highly effective and brilliant uses of this digital thinking.

Case Study No. 1: Red Cross
As the world watches the heart-breaking images of the devastating earthquake, our hearts are saddened. We want to provide help in whatever way that we can, but we live here. They are there. What role can we play? This is where Red Cross stepped in to provide a way. Everyone knows that Red Cross plays a huge role in responding to disasters around the world. They also accept donations that fund these very causes. Their mission didn’t change but their call-to-action did. Many people would never take the time to seek out a way to give to Red Cross, but our tech-savvy society had phones in hand when they heard of the Haiti disaster. Many of us, including myself, learned of the disaster on my phone. So, the idea of using that device as a quick and easy means of collecting money was perfect. With a simple text message, you can donate $10 to the Red Cross’ relief efforts in Haiti. The buzz about the 90999 SMS code spread like wildfire across Twitter and Facebook. Within 3 days they had raised over $3 million dollars in donations through text messaging alone. That is phenomenal! That is money that may have never been seen if this system wasn’t in place. It is such a simple technology, but it found a great use in this tragedy. Tony Aiello of mGive, the company that is handling the donations for Red Cross, said it best, “Today is a huge day for mobile giving. We are experiencing a tipping point.”

Case Study No. 2: Harvard
Remember the first day that you walked onto your college campus as a freshman? Can’t you feel your heart pounding as you try to discreetly glance at your campus map that is secretly tucked away inside of your shiny new binder? Well, Harvard is attempting to take the fear out of freshman life and encourage upper class-men to become more involved and active on campus. Enter Foursquare. For all of you Mayors out there, you already know that Foursquare is a game that lets you & your friends discover new things in the city, and you earn points and unlock badges when you discover something new. You can think of it as a location-based scavenger hunt with the goal being to connect with new places and ultimately new people. So, Harvard has partnered with Foursquare to create a game and badge specific to their locations. I think this is a great use of a previously existing social platform. Instead of reinventing the wheel, Harvard has harnessed the power of a very popular tool to encourage campus activity and help save fearful freshman.

Case Study No. 3: Tasti D-Lite

If you peek inside your wallet, do you find a stack of unused loyalty reward cards? Or do you have a myriad of grocery store fobs that adorn your key ring? Even though the rewards of using loyalty cards can be beneficial to our bottom line, many people simply forget to use them. But would you reconsider if your incentives were increased? Tasti D-Lite has taken a new approach to customer loyalty by combining digital platforms that their patrons already use. If you connect your Tasti D-Lite loyalty card, known as the TreatCard, to your Twitter and/or Foursquare account, you can earn additional points for spreading your Tasti D-Lite love. When you swipe your card, you will earn points for an automated tweet that will go out, and when you check in on Foursquare more points will be added to your account. Again, it’s such a simple idea that will most definitely have an effect on their patrons. Tasti D-Lite may be one of the first to attach loyalty rewards to social media engagement, but they won’t be last. Others will soon see the benefits and follow suit.

Brands are always looking for ways to further their cause, engage their consumers, and increase their awareness. Red Cross, Harvard, and Tasti D-Lite, although drastically different in their missions, have all found a shared success harnessing the power of existing digital addictions. These case studies are great examples of how to implement easy and highly successful programs for your brand. So, what digital power will your brand harness?

NY Times Blog
Mashable: Harvard
Mashable: Tasti D-Lite